#CatchingUpWith Kelly Rowland: An Interview with Christopher A. Daniel

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Singer Kelly Rowland takes equal pride in her health and paying her superstardom forward. The Grammy-winning entertainer came back to her birthplace, Atlanta, late last spring to raise awareness about the importance of young people, especially those affected by allergies, to engage in outdoor, physical activities.

In partnership with allergy medicine Claritin and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the former member of best-selling female vocal group Destiny’s Child visited club branches in Atlanta, New York and St. Louis to present renovated outdoor recreational areas. Rowland, who changes into a pair of rainbow-colored Nikes from her open-toed, flesh-toned heels, interacts with the kids, asks them about their career goals, takes countless selfies and performs splits with the other young ladies.

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“I always think about where I came from, how I grew up and how someone was there for me,” says the former The X-Factor judge-turned-host of the BET talent search series Chasing Destiny. “I want to make sure I’m not just up here with make up on and a cute dress. I have something to say, and I stand for something.”

Rowland, affected by allergies herself, recalls attending a BGCA event in New York along with a Youth of the Year gala the following year. The platinum-selling songstress listened to countless young people share stories about overcoming personal obstacles. Taking brief pauses, Rowland speaks in a higher register as she expresses her admiration for their energy.

KellyKids2“It was so many different emotions I had sitting at the table,” shares Rowland tapping her manicured, gold jewelry-clad finger on the table listing each emotion. “It’s a choice to be great and better than the last generation. We were all just moved because these kids came from different circumstances at home, and they want to be great.”

Allergist and immunologist Dr. Jonathan Field joined Rowland briefly. The Atlanta-born medical specialist now based in New York shared the multi-talented artist’s sentiments about coming back to Hotlanta. Also a Claritin spokesperson, Dr. Field recalls the performer thinking it was a good idea to create another opportunity similar to The High Line, an abandoned railway re-purposed into a walking area in New York, that encourages more young people to spend longer than a half hour outside.

Even before representing the top over-the-counter allergy brand, the passionate alumnus of both Emory University and Morehouse School of Medicine says he always prescribed Claritin to patients like Rowland. “It has an excellent record,” states the former resident at St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis. “It’s great medicine, and they always focused on patients being outside and active.”

KellyKids3Rowland normally drinks lots of water and takes Claritin to treat her allergies. Managing a strong work ethic both on-and-off stage, the selfless humanitarian actively uses her star power to advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness, youth volunteerism, bone marrow drives, breast cancer and homelessness.

The seductive vocalist behind memorable singles like “Dilemma,” “Stole,” “Like This,” “Can’t Nobody,” “Motivation,” “Kisses Down Low,” “Commander” and “When Love Takes Over” emphasizes the importance of taking proper precautions before she performs.

“I try to stay indoors if I am recording,” warns Rowland. “If a performance is outside, I’m gonna get through it, but those symptoms will definitely pop up. I can take something, and it will calm down.”

Dr. Field suggests subsequent treatments like antihistamines, closed windows, quick showers and salt water gargles to entertainers, particularly singers. “If she [Kelly] can plan a performance based on weather conditions, she has the option to do a shorter time outside,” he says. “If she knows she’s gonna be out for awhile, she can seek care early.”

Like Dr. Field, Rowland takes into account what her presence means before her younger fans. The mother of a close to two-year-old son, Titan, and chanteuse spanning R&B, gospel, pop, hip-hop and electronica takes the messages in her music and lyrical content into account with each project.

KellyKids4“You think about what you’re saying because you’re conscious and aware about your messaging,” says Rowland. “You want to provide safety for your child and any other kids.”

Rowland adds, “You remove yourself from it and realize that this could be you and what would you want someone to say to you? How would you want them to help you?”

Raised in Houston but currently living in Los Angeles, Rowland is gearing up to release her fifth solo LP. She is unveiling her own cosmetics line targeted towards darker-skinned females along with a book project. In the meantime, Rowland is concentrating heavily on motherhood and continuing to pay it forward to various communities.

Her noble acts motivate her to continue to use her musical gifts for the common good. “I always have,” confirms Rowland. “I’m just happy that along the way I never stopped wanting to.”


Christopher DanielChristopher A. Daniel is an award-winning pop cultural critic who is based in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to soulhead.com, he has contributed columns to The Burton Wire, HuffPost Live, Blues & Soul Magazine, Music Enthusiast Magazine, BK Nation, Shadow & Act, The Root, Dine with Dani and Urban Lux Magazine. Christopher is currently an instructor in the School of Communication at Georgia State University. Check out his other work on soulhead.com

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